Mitlenatch Island

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Coastal Islands, Pacific Northwest

Mitlenatch Island
Mitlenatch Island, Photo By Wayne Wright

Mitlenatch Island is a small island in the Strait of Georgia, the island is almost desert like with many types of cacti. It also is home to one of the largest seabird colonies in the waters of the south coast, This is a important nesting colony for thousands of Glaucous winged Gulls, pigeon guillemots, cormorants, black oystercatchers, auklets and many other types of birds. There is an abundant marine life in the waters that surround the Mitlenatch Island that includes otters, harbor seals, killer whales, steller sea lions, California sea lions and many more like minks and rats.

Facilities are basic, there are picnic tables and pit toilets. The island has no docking facilities, requiring boaters to anchor in Northwest Bay or Camp Bay on the south side of the island and then rowing to shore.

Mitlenatch Island, BC Coast
Mitlenatch Island, Photo By Wayne Wright

There is much to do here on the island, there is hiking, picnicking, fishing, bird watching, wildlife photography and swimming.

In 1959, Mitlenatch Island was purchased from the Manson family estate by the BC Government and in 1961 it was turned into a Provincial Park. Mitlenatch was at one time, owned by the Manson family of Cortes Island, who raised sheep along with a few cattle on the island. The cattle were butchered on the island and the meat was rowed to Comox, sheep were brought to the island in spring by boat and taken off in the fall.

Mitlenatch Island Nature Provincial Park is the biggest seabird colony in the straits, all life here from the birds to the sea life is protected. The boundaries of the park go out 300 meters from the shore. The island has many types of sea birds nesting here , from pelagic cormorants to pigeon guillemots. You can see many others nesting here as well, black oystercatchers, glaucous winged gulls and more. Offshore you can see otters, seals, sea lions, dolphins and whales. Its a wonderful place to visit.

The BC Parks page has some great information on the park and some clear rules on your expected behavior.

“Mitlenatch Island Nature Provincial Park offers excellent opportunities to observe and photograph wildflowers and birds. Visit in May when the island’s meadows of spring wildflowers are in bloom, or in late May to July when the harvest brodia blooms and in the last half of June when the coastal cactus bloom. Birders should approach the observation blind as a group, slowly and quietly, this may help to reduce the birds’ anxiety. The island is a very sensitive ecosystem that is extremely prone to damage by visitors who venture off the designated trails. Pets are not permitted on the island. Collecting of any kind is NOT permitted at Mitlenatch Island, including all shellfish.”

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